How I spend my working day – Undertaker Susan Maguire Massey

Susan Maguire Massey joined her family business, a third generation undertakers, straight out of school. Twenty-three years later she’s now company director.


Massey Bros was founded by Susan’s grandmother Cissy Massey, and her father Freddie Maguire. Today, herself and her five siblings are all working in the business. “I joined straight after school; it was a job I was born to do.”

Now company director with specific responsibility for running funeral homes in Blackrock and Templeogue, Susan’s ability to multi-task and instinctively read difficult situations have proven key to her success. “Over 60% of our workforce is female. What was typically seen as a male dominated industry, has changed vastly over the last number of years, and I am proud to champion that.”

I wake at…

Advertisement

6am, and usually have a quick glance at my phone to see if there is anything urgent. Being a director of the business, you are rarely off duty.

The first thing I do every morning is…

Look in on my two little girls. Then take a little time for myself to get ready for the day ahead, start the breakfast and make the girls their lunches before getting them out of bed!

Breakfast is usually…

Scrambled eggs and toast or porridge and a quick coffee. Breakfast is essential as breaks can be few and far between in our business.

 

Advertisement

 Enter now: IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2019

 

I can’t go to work without…

Getting a big hug from my husband and kissing my girls goodbye. In our line of work, I meet so many people who never get the opportunity to say goodbye properly, they never got that final hug or kiss, so I never leave home without saying goodbye.

“I wear a black felt top hat that dates from the 1900’s and is a sign of mourning. Families and friends would place a wide cloth band around their hats to signify mourning. It’s an honour to wear it at funerals.”

Deciding what to wear each morning is…

About choosing which black outfit to wear! I can safely say I have one of the biggest and best selection of black dresses any one person can possibly have – although at the weekends it’s all about colour. A few years ago, we introduced some purple into the company brand, so I have a purple scarf that I wear while on funerals. Also, I wear a black felt top hat for funerals that dates from the 1900’s and is a sign of mourning. Families and friends would place a wide cloth band around their hats to signify mourning. It’s an honour to wear it at funerals.

Advertisement

The best investment I ever made in my work wardrobe was…

A good coat and a nice pair of comfortable shoes. We are open 365 days a year, on call 24hrs a day, and can be called upon in all types of weather, and we often spend a lot of time on our feet, so a good coat and footwear is important for me. Heels slow me down. I am lucky my gorgeous sister in-law has a fab vintage shop, Cobblers Wardrobe, and have I found many timeless pieces there.

I travel to work by…

Car. We have nine funeral homes throughout Dublin and although I work between Blackrock and Templeogue, I could be needed in any of our nine locations when on funerals. So, a car is essential for me. It also enables me to do house-calls.

I start my working day...

Officially at 8.45am, but we are on call 24hrs a day, and occasionally, I manage the night phone for the business, which could mean dealing with enquiries at any time of the night or early morning.

I usually spend the first portion of the day...

Advertisement

Ensuring that all arrangements are in place for the funerals taking place later that morning. Making sure that our drivers have all their instructions that everything a family has requested is in place. There’s no room for error in this business. On occasion where I don’t have a funeral, I am out out in the community meeting people, looking at the overall operations of our nine funeral homes, or meeting a new family or carrying out the administration of recent funerals.

“In our line of work, I meet so many people who never get the opportunity to say goodbye properly, they never got that final hug or kiss, so I never leave home without saying goodbye.”

I break for lunch at…

It depends, quite often I will make lunch and bring it to work or sometimes I might meet my father for lunch. He’s been in the business for almost 50 years so he has pretty much seen it all and is a great level-headed person to bounce ideas off. Plus, it gives me time to catch up with him during the working day.

I think meetings are often…

Useful when trying to bring all parties together to discuss something specific, but I enjoy the informal meetings, the chance encounters, that can often be just as effective.

The most useful business tool I use every day is….

Advertisement

My mobile phone. I easily make or receive over 50 calls in a day, just to confirm everyone in our team is on the same page. For mid to long-term planning I use the diary function on my phone to set reminders of upcoming deadlines, etc.

Susan Maguire Massey, company director Massey Bros Funerals Ltd

 

I save time by…

Delegating appropriately. I am lucky to have a fantastic team around me that works very well together.

I rarely get through my working day…

Advertisement

Without learning something new. Every day is a school day. I love that though, learning helps me to push myself and the business forward. We are one of the largest funeral operators in Dublin, and Blackrock is a new business for us, we are only open three years, so I am out there with the community as much as I can. It’s an important part of my day job.

The best part of my day is…

When a funeral has gone off successfully and you know you have made a difference. In our business, we are seeing people at their worst. Grief and bereavement no matter what the circumstances are extremely upsetting for people. If we can help, make that any easier, my job is done. I see this as my vocation, this was a job I was born into, helping people to say goodbye to their loved ones with respect, love and dignity.

The most challenging part of my day is…

The morning, it’s all-go straight away, and it can be hard to pace yourself at times.

I know it’s been a good day if…

Everything goes to plan and on time, when families feel comforted in what we do and that they feel we gave their loved one the best possible send off.

Advertisement

I usually end my day at…

5.30pm but our working days are not always regular. It can be much later, especially if I am meeting a family for the first time or accommodating an evening repose in our funeral home. I would consider myself quite hands on and I like to be present as much as possible particularly, where I’ve been the family’s primary point of contact.

I switch off from work by…

Cooking. I love to cook, and I love my kitchen. I would cook every night. I must confess it is not always healthy though. I would be quite partial to using butter, cream, salt, plus lots of garlic! Although, my husband reckons this is often why it tastes so good.

Before I go to bed, I’ll always…

Spend some time with my girls – as a working mum I do not always get to spend as much time with them as I like so it’s important to make the most of it when you can.

I often prepare for tomorrow by…

Advertisement

Getting out tomorrow’s black dress and by making my own lunch so that I have time to prepare the girls theirs each morning.

 

Read more: Stories from inspiring Irish businesswomen

Read more: Enter the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2019

Read more: Buy tickets to this year's gala event on November 25

 

 

Advertisement

The image newsletter